In a civil law suit--car accident, --what is the legal difference between a Final Release and a Settlement Agreement?

Asked 8 months ago - San Francisco, CA

When a civil law suit settles--car accident--do the parties typically sign a settlement agreement, or do they sign a release or both?

Attorney answers (10)

  1. Richard Todd Rosenstein

    Contributor Level 19

    20

    Lawyers agree

    1

    Answered . The type of release is dependent on the type of case. Once a personal injury case is settled, there is normally a settlement agreement and release of all known and unknown claims.

  2. Alan Ray Barnes

    Contributor Level 18

    19

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Generally only the plaintiff signs a release. It may be captioned "Final Release," "Settlement Agreement," or something else. The title doesn't matter nearly so much as the release language.

  3. Michael Shemtoub

    Contributor Level 17

    18

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . They're pretty much the same, but don't sign it unless you are done with medical treatment and 100%.

    I live and work in California and deal with accidents like yours all the time, so I am happy to answer your question. Your gut instinct is right that you have questions regarding your rights and your case. I've handled a good amount of accident cases and know that insurance companies give cases like yours a hard time even if the police report finds the other person at fault. You should hire an attorney now before you hurt your case (happens unfortunately very often). You should hire a lawyer to help you out with the claim because regardless of the outcome of the police report insurance companies give unrepresented people a tough time. I've handled cases and referred clients to great doctors in the San Francisco, CA area.

    At our firm we always refer clients to all kinds of doctors and chiropractors when our clients are injured and our clients never pay anything upfront, not even a copay. The doctors are willing to do this because an attorney is on board. You are entitled to have your property damage, medical bills and future medical expenses PAID FOR BY THE OTHER PARTY'S INSURANCE (or your uninsured motorist policy). The attorney you hire will handle the claims process from start to finish.

    But you are going to need to see a specliast to even get a shot at getting future medical treatment from the Defenedant. Moreover it sounds like the accident is completely the other persons fault so you don't want this case to become a difficult one because of lack of inattention. The insurance company will make you believe that your case is worth very little... Regarding pain and suffering, you need to speak to an experienced attorney that can strategize your case. Just because you were in an accident doesn't mean you have pain and suffering, at least thats what the insurance companies think. Make no doubt about it you have a great case, but you need help from a professional. You are entitled to your medical bills being covered as well.

    Do you feel that you are at the same medical condition that you were before the accident? As a basic premise I wouldn't handle your claim by yourself. The attorney you hired can likely refer you to a doctor, if you ask for one, who will see you with no upfront payment! I've done this many times to help my clients out. You should not wait a single day to hire a lawyer, we will advise you on the strategy of your case. There is no upfront cost to hire an attorney.

    With a case like yours it seems like you have some good facts in order to get a high settlement, but your case definitely needs to be developed further to corroborate your story. The most important thing when building your case are: liability (were you at fault); how bad are your injuries to your body. A lot of these things sound like they are not complete yet in your case so its something that is worth hiring an attorney for in order to get a sense of whether you have a case and what the strategy would be for you to build a strong case! I've handled cases and/or spoken to clients in the San Francisco, CA area.

    Its very possible that your case is worth more than the $$$ that the insurance company will offer you by yourself. Make your life easier and call an attorney today, you won't regret it.

    I am licensed in California only and my answers on Avvo assume California law. Answers provided by me are for... more
  4. Roger Stone Reynolds

    Pro

    Contributor Level 12

    17

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . It's essentially the same thing. In a litigation case, it will be a final release and settlement agreement all in one. For a settlement prior to litigation with the adverse insurance company, it will probably be called a release of all claims, but is essentially the same thing and operates at law the same way.

  5. Christopher John Gansen

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

    17

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Those are pretty much just different terms for the same document. Different ins. cos. call them different things.

  6. Jeffrey Mark Adams

    Contributor Level 20

    18

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Your attorney can explain the particulars as it applies to your case.

    Personal injury cases only; I'm good at it; you be the Judge! All information provided is for informational and... more
  7. Robert Bruce Kopelson

    Contributor Level 20

    16

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . No difference.

  8. Maryam Parman

    Pro

    Contributor Level 15

    16

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . They are pretty much the same and legally enforceable if executed by all involved parties.

  9. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    17

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You say tomato, I say tomato...same diff

  10. Andrew T. Velonis

    Contributor Level 12

    9

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . There is an overlap. Most of the time a release is enough (where I practice, NY) sometimes they want a settlement agreement also, but a release is always in the picture. They can be combined into one document as well. The "release" says "We're done. I'm taking the deal and will make no further claim." The settlement agreement can add other terms, typically: "we don't admit fault, this is a compromise of a disputed and doubtful claim, if you owe anyone money that's your problem not ours, you can't tell anyone about this and stop hating on us on the 'net"

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